"Irreverence is easy--what's hard is wit."--Tom Lehrer
Thursday, January 23, 2014
The HoseMaster's Comprehensive Guide to Wine
Have you ever flipped through those beginner books about wine? Wine for Dummies, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Wine, Wine for Down’s Syndrome Adults, So You Say You’re Brain Dead Wine Guide, and Don’t Drink Wine if You’re Too Stupid to Read this Book Guide…they’re all rubbish. But they sell. No matter which one you pick up, and, please, God, tell me you’ve never read or owned more than one of them, it basically will have the same information as the others. Maybe in a slightly different format, but just about the same. They are timelessly stupid books, written for sixth grade reading comprehension skills, all purporting to make you comfortable about your wine knowledge in the space of a few hundred poorly illustrated pages. I think it’s the tone of these books that is so insulting, tones reflected in titles about how the reader is an idiot, a dummy, or needs a Bible. If you’re trying to learn about wine, DON’T BUY THESE BOOKS! I’m going to save you the money. And treat you like an adult. Though you’re clearly a jackass. So let’s begin. It’s the HoseMaster’s Comprehensive Guide to Wine. You’re welcome.
CHAPTER ONE: AN OVERVIEW
Wine has been part of human civilization for at least 7000 years. But it wasn’t until 4000 years ago that the 100 Point Scale was invented. Prior to that, the first wine critics used the 20 point scale, a scale based on the number of fingers and toes they possessed. An ancient wine that received ten fingers and eight toes was very highly prized. Even today, a low score from a wine critic is the equivalent of simply giving the winery the lowest score possible--the finger.
The advice tendered by just about every beginner wine book when it comes to what wines you should drink boils down to the simplistic and completely misguided advice, Drink what you like. Only Idiots believe this is the way to enjoy wine. When you see this advice anywhere, immediately discredit everything else the writer has to say. When you’re a child and your mother wants you to eat, she may ask you what you want. You answer, “French fries!” or “Fruit Loops!” or “Lung Escargot!” But your mother knows better. She makes you try new things. Eating only what you like leads nowhere. You grow up to be a dwarf, and not one with a movie career. Your health suffers, and once you are old enough to date, you look like an asshole. Try ordering Fruit Loops in a nice restaurant.
Wine is the same as food. Don’t drink what you like. You’ll just look like an asshole. The simpleminded writers who suggest you drink what you like are railing against being a score chaser, trying to convince you that a more expensive wine, a higher-rated wine, isn’t necessarily better than cheap wine. That’s patently crap. They’re trying to make you feel better about yourself for drinking cheap wine. Not me. I won’t insult your intelligence, though God knows that would be easy. There is absolutely no reason to feel good about yourself when you drink cheap wine. You’re a failure. People come to your house and see the wines you’re drinking, and, guess what they’re thinking? They’re thinking you are either really cheap or a consummate failure. They are not thinking, Wow, you must really know a lot about wine to be drinking that cheap crap.
Cheap wine is for getting drunk. It’s not the real thing. Like masturbation isn’t really sex. You can tell yourself it is, Loser, but we know, and you know, it’s not. It satisfies a base desire, absolutely. For about two minutes—on your best day. But the real thing demands time and attention, usually some serious money, and, for real enjoyment, someone else.
In conclusion, it’s clear that people who drink what they like are serial masturbators. If I’m you, I wouldn’t shake their hand.
CHAPTER TWO: WHAT IS WINE?
Wine is fermented grape juice that people screw with to make it taste good. If they didn’t screw with it, it would taste awful. Many beginning wine lovers romanticize wine, seeing it as natural, or as a gift from God. Once again, this is stupid. Frankly, if God is handing out gifts, I don’t really need wine. I could use a new stereo. And wine isn’t any more natural than Quaker Oats or Jiffy peanut butter or that car deodorizer hanging from your mirror that tells everyone you’re hill people. Wine is made by people. People can’t make natural things. Nature makes natural things. Nature makes grapes. People make wine.
It is hard to imagine what wine must have tasted like a couple of thousand years ago, say, at The Last Supper. Jesus may have turned water into wine, but, frankly, Jesus had no idea what good wine tasted like. Sound familiar? In that way, you’re just like Jesus. Jesus probably just finished reading “Wine for Martyrs” and thought He should drink what He likes. Jackass. Anyway, the wine would have been terrible, ruining what otherwise might have been a lovely meal with friends. But, as always in a story about Jesus, there is a lesson to be learned. Serve lousy wine at a dinner with your friends, you’re more than likely to be crucified.
Wine today is a sophisticated drink. It’s hard to think of another beverage that has changed the course of history more than wine, except perhaps tea and Kool-Aid. Learning to appreciate wine is a lifetime’s work. No one can know all there is to know about wine. Mainly because they’re drunk all the time and more interested in telling the same goddam story four times in a row. But that’s what makes wine a great passion. Its boundaries do not exist, like your slutty sister. Just when you think you know everything, you discover Italian wine. That’s when you are so fucked.
After 19 years as a Sommelier in Los Angeles, twice named Sommelier of the Year by the Southern California Restaurant Writers' Association, I moved to Sonoma County to explore the other aspects of the wine business. I've spent, OK wasted, 35 years learning about and teaching about and swallowing wine. I am also a judge at the Sonoma Harvest Fair, San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and the San Francisco International Wine Competition--so I can spit like a rabid llama. I know more about wine than David Sedaris and I'm funnier than James Laube. Stay tuned for an informed but jaded view of everything wine and everything else.
I'm living proof that alcohol kills brain cells.
What the Critics Are Saying About HoseMaster of Wine
"If you want a great hoot and howl moment or two...go read the HoseMaster's year-end reflections...that guy is without a doubt the funniest SOB in the blog-world...and thank him for having the brains and balls to target his laser of laughter on anybody...HoseMaster for President...HoseMaster for Blogger of the Year...although he would be the first to say the bar is so damn low for that award, he should win it every year..." --Robert Parker
"No one is immune from California sommelier and wine judge Ron Washam's skewering. He polishes that skewer with boundless enthusiasm and acuity."
"As serious as the world of wine is, it does allow time for humor. Each Monday and Thursday, Ron Washam customarily posts a commentary on his needling wine blog HoseMaster of Wine. Washam, a former sommelier and comedy writer – he might say they are closely related – is the most opinionated, humorous and ribald observer in the wine world. His body of work is irreverent and remorseless. It’s almost always satire and parody, though he occasionally drifts into straight commentary, sometimes even with tasting notes. This past year, one of his posts was named the best of the year in the Wine Blog Awards. His success has spawned several imitations, which in their awkwardness show just how difficult satire is."
--Mike Dunne, Sacramento Bee
Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/01/21/6089630/dunne-on-wine-wine-blogs-and-bloggers.html#storylink=cpy
"Please let this guy write the scripts for Saturday Night Live which has gotten so lame...his newest "wisdom" is worth an Emmy....I wonder if he is the genius behind all those Hitler/Parker,etc. clips? No one else is remotely as funny or as talented.And the wine world sure needs someone to poke fun at all the nonsense and phoney/baloney unsufferable crap out there."
"Washam uses his own blog, HoseMaster of Wine, to skewer the industry in general and wine blogs in particular. If your mouse scoots to your browser's close box while reading a wine blog, Washam may be the blogger for you."
--San Francisco Chronicle
"Ron Washam, former sommelier, is easily the most bitingly funny blogger/wine writer that we have ever come across. He is an equal opportunity crusader who pillories big wineries and amateur bloggers alike, as well as everything and everyone in between...One needs a sense of humor and a tolerance for earthiness to enjoy reading The Hosemaster. We must have both because this guy deserves a wider audience, in our humble opinion." --Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine
"In my opinion, and that of many others, his blog is one of the best. And in terms of satirical or parodic wine blogs, it has no peer. Ron’s alert eye catches every pretense and skewers it with laugh out loud mercilessness."
"This site should carry a warning label. It's sort of a Dave Barry/George Carlin approach to wine. The Hosemaster (real name Ron Washam) skewers fellow bloggers and industry savants with glee, while offering hilarious wine guides such as his Honest Guide to Grapes..."
--Paul Gregutt, Seattle Times
"Washam is a skilled wine judge (I have judged with him) who is willing to judge wine double blind, in public. To my knowledge, Parker does not do this and never has. So Ron's credentials are in place, and so is his sense of the absurd."
--Dan Berger, VintageExperiences
"...I consider Ron a very talented writer and I’ve long been an admirer of his scathing wit..."
"And if any free sites think they can conquer the world, there’s always the Hosemaster to take ‘em down a notch."
--Tyler Colman "Dr. Vino"
"Those of you who know Ron either love or hate him, because he throws jabs like a punch drunk boxer, and we’re all in the firing line. He’ll throw them if he hates you, and he’ll throw them if he loves you. He’s a satirist of exceptional quality."
--Jo Diaz "Juicy Tales by Jo Diaz"
"I must say you are an idiot. I've never liked you. I have no idea why people find you funny."